Sad news for fans of dinosaurs and time travel today: dinosaurs can’t time travel. Additionally, FOX officially confirmed that it was canceling the Steven Spielberg produced Terra Nova after one season, meaning star Jason O’Mara is officially the Black Widow of genre TV shows.
For those of you not familiar – and given the low audience numbers that led to its cancellation, that was most of you – the concept was that in the far future, humanity has run the planet down to a polluted nub. Instead of trying to fix their problems, they instead discovered a door to an alternate universe, and decided to wreck that timeline by sending settlers back to dinosaur times, to restart the human race and give them a new chance… Though of course basically causing the extinction of all of humanity that was supposed to be in that timeline, but we digress.
Terra Nova was announced years ago to much fanfare, and later turned into one of the most expensive shows ever on TV. The budget went to the location shoots in Australia, of course, but also to the dinosaur CGI effects that appeared throughout the show. And despite massive amounts of money thrown at marketing, the show still didn’t catch on. We’d posit maybe that’s because it was no good, and the dinosaurs were worse looking than the ones in Jurassic Park nearly two decades ago, but there’s plenty of godawful TV on the air; so we don’t really have a leg to stand on with that one.
That all said, Terra Nova’s remaining fan doesn’t need to lament the loss of their show yet: 20th Century FOX is said to be shopping the show around to cable networks in an effort to keep the show going. Unfortunately for that fan, this probably won’t happen… despite hemorrhaging audiences, broadcast TV budgets still surpass most of what you see on Cable. Only a network with the budget of, say, and HBO would have a chance of picking up Terra Nova, and with what little we watched, none of the dinosaurs seemed to be having a secret incestual relationship, so there’s no way the show would fit in with the rest of HBO’s production slate. Also, the show is bad.
There is one additional note of alarm that could be raised by the notoriously genre-friendly-up-to-a-point FOX, and that’s that both FRINGE and Alcatraz - also both expensive shows, though not quite in the Terra Nova range - might be on the chopping block, as well. With FRINGE, that would gut us, of course: the show has consistently proved to be one, if not the best drama currently on TV, and the producers have said they’d like at least one more season to finish out their story. And while we’re not quite as effusive about Alcatraz, after a rocky start the prison-fi show had proved to be a lot of fun, like a lite version of FRINGE. Also we kind of desperately want to see both shows crossover, and without another season, that just won’t happen.
So is Terra Nova’s cancellation the beginning of the end of genre TV on FOX? And what about all the boring questions the first season’s mythology forgot to answer in the most annoying and obvious way possible? Hey, there’s always comics.